This honey old fashioned cocktail is made with bourbon, aromatic bitters and a homemade honey simple syrup.
Here at Champagne Tastes, we're big fans of bourbon.
We love bourbon for sipping, in cocktails, in recipes and (of course) the Bourbon Trail. After all, we are in Kentucky.
Recently, while touring the James E Pepper Distillery, we learned about how the Old Fashioned cocktail was invented for James E Pepper. I even had a chance to sip on an Old Fashioned while we toured.
It was quite an enjoyable experience.
What Is an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
This simple cocktail is traditionally made with bourbon, bitters, sugar and a twist of orange or lemon zest.
It's sometimes (but not always) garnished with a cocktail cherry.
Why Use Honey Syrup Instead of Sugar?
For one, the sugar in an Old Fashioned never seems to dissolve for me.
Or, for that matter, for the bartender at the James E Pepper Distillery. If you look closely, you can see the sugar in the bottom of the glass in the previous photo.
Using a simple syrup instead of sugar allows the sweetener to dissolve in the drink, providing a sweeter cocktail.
And why honey instead of sugar? It's simple — I like the flavor of honey in this drink.
What Kind of Bourbon Should I Use For a Honey Old Fashioned?
You can use any kind of bourbon you like, but make sure you enjoy the flavor. You'll definitely taste the bourbon in this cocktail!
My favorites are Maker’s Mark (for a more traditional flavor) or Woodford Reserve’s Double Oaked Bourbon for a smokier flavor.
Can I Use Whiskey Instead?
Yes! Rye whiskey works well in an old fashioned, especially if you like a little extra spice in your cocktail.
Avoid using any kind of flavored whiskey.
What Type of Bitters Should I Use?
Use aromatic bitters.
I like to look for bitters without food coloring, which can be surprisingly hard to find. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co makes bitters without food coloring, and so does Trader Joe's.
What Kind of Honey Should I Use in an Old Fashioned?
Use whatever honey you have on hand!
I love making this with a darker honey, like the Black Forest honey pictured below. It’s also delicious with specialty honey like the Woodford double barrel honey pictured, or with easy to find wildflower honey.
Swapping Orange Zest for Candied Citrus Slices
Old fashioneds are traditionally garnished with lemon or orange zest. I love swapping in candied citrus slices like the ones pictured below from Trader Joe's.
If you can't find candied orange slices, another option is unsweetened dehydrated orange slices.
Of course, a little orange zest works well too if that's what you have on hand.
How to Make a Honey Old Fashioned
Start with the honey simple syrup.
Heat equal parts honey and water in a saucepan until the honey dissolves, then set it aside to cool down. You can also make the syrup ahead of time.
Next, fill a rocks glass with ice. I like to use silicone sphere molds to make large ice cubes.
Next, add the bourbon, bitters and syrup to the rocks glass.
Either twist a little orange or lemon zest over the cocktail, then add it to the drink, or garnish your drink with a candied (or dehydrated) orange slice.
If you want, add a cocktail cherry.
Sip your this Honey Old Fashioned and enjoy this lightly sweet (and strong!) cocktail.
Honey Old Fashioned
- 1 rocks glass
Honey Simple Syrup:
- 4 ounces honey
- 4 ounces water
Honey Old Fashioned:
- ½ ounce honey simple syrup
- 2 ounces bourbon Or use unflavored whiskey
- 2 dashes bitters (~¼ teaspoon) Angostura are traditional, I prefer Jack Rudy Aromatic bitters
- twist of lemon or orange zest Or swap for a candied orange or lemon slice
- 2 cocktail cherries (optional)
- ice I like to use large ice cubes
- club soda (optional)
Honey Simple Syrup:
- Add the honey and water to a small pot. Heat over medium-low heat until the liquid is hot and beginning to steam. (There is no need to bring the syrup to a boil.)Remove syrup and set aside to cool. (I like to wait at least 10 minutes to avoid adding hot syrup to the drink.)
- Store syrup in a glass jar (or airtight container) in the fridge. Use within a month. You should have enough syrup for 8 cocktails.
Honey Old Fashioned:
- Add half an ounce of the honey simple syrup, 2 ounces bourbon and 2 dashes of bitters to a rocks glass with ice. Stir the cocktail.Twist the lemon or orange zest over the glass, then drop it into the glass. (Alternatively, skip the zest and add a candied lemon or orange slice.)Optionally, garnish with a cocktail cherry. If desired, fill the remainder of the rocks glass with club soda.